Grading the keys to victory: Florida
I. Have Something Good Happen Early
The Gamecocks' early game woes continued against Florida as they were down 13-0 before they had time to blink. A fumbled snap and blocked punt did the Gamecocks in early as the Gators scored twice in the first four minutes of the game. Both were errors that good teams should not make, especially so early in the game when each team should be firmly focused on the task at hand and playing their assignments. Fortunately, like they have in most games this year, the Gamecocks battled back and scored two touchdowns to take a brief 14-13 lead over the Gators. The short-lived glory was the only time South Carolina would lead as it was all Florida after that.
II. Contain Tebow and Harvin
What looked like a pre-game break for the Gamecocks when Percy Harvin missed the trip to Columbia because of flu-like symptoms turned out to not really matter, as his backfield playmaking mate took up all his slack and more. In what was a career-high day for the big lefty, Tebow ran and threw all over the Gamecocks to the tune of a school-record seven touchdowns. The sophomore passed for a career-high 304 yards and added another 120 yards on the ground. The Gamecock defense had no answers for the dual-threat quarterback and for the second week in a row made an opposing player a strong case for a trip to New York for the Heisman presentation.
III. Play Efficient Red Zone Offense
The Gamecocks did a good job of scoring when they got chances, they just simply weren't in the red zone enough to outscore the Gators. Big plays from an emerging Dion Lecorn and senior-leader Cory Boyd led to South Carolina's 5 for 5 red zone performance. Lecorn is USC's only freshman receiver to get significant playing time on offense, and after only catching eight balls in the first eight games this season, he has caught 14 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown in the last three contests. Boyd is having arguably his best year as a Gamecock, as the Orange, NJ-native's career is coming to a close. Boyd capped off three South Carolina drives with touchdowns Saturday.
IV. Get Boyd and Davis Room
Cory Boyd rushed for just 44 yards on 17 carries as the offensive line never gave him much room to run. I expected the Florida defensive line to give South Carolina trouble in pass protection, but expected the Gamecocks to be able to run the football. Boyd averaged just 2.6 yards a carry while a banged up Mike Davis only got three carries. As much as Spurrier is known for the pass, his offense is most effective when his quarterback is completing passes and his running backs have room on the sprint-draw play. In the teams' strong finish last year, they were able to move the ball both through the air and on the ground. While the offense was not dynamic, it was rarely stopped by opposing defenses.
V. Force the Turnover
The Gamecocks recovered two Florida fumbles and intercepted one Tebow pass, but it was all for not as South Carolina lost two fumbles and threw a pick as well. The Gamecocks did miss a prime opportunity for a big play when Tebow floated a pass to no one in particular in the end zone that floated near freshman linebacker Melvin Ingram, but fell harmlessly to the ground. Frankly, the turnovers didn't really matter much as the USC defense simply could not stop Florida on any type of consistent basis.
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